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EPALE - En digital mötesplats för vuxenutbildare i Europa


Digital Societies, Digital Inclusion

av Tamás Harangozó

/sv/file/digital-societies-digital-inclusionDigital Societies, Digital Inclusion

The European Basic Skills Network is announcing an online discussion on digital inclusion of adults in the framework of the network's Capacity Building Series. The discussion is scheduled to start on 6 March, 2019 9:00 (CET) and be finalised on 7 March, 2019 17:00 (CET) and its experiences are aimed at contributing to the EBSN's forthcoming open education resource (OER) in the theme of digital inclusion.


In the framework of the current thematic focus on EPALE, issues related to digitalisation and adult learning have been targeted from a number of different approaches. There are at least two clearly distinguished foci in this matter: 

  • the utilisation of digital materials, applications, and devices as tools that facilitate and enhance all forms for learning, including basic literacy skills for adults, (see Graciela Sbertoli’s comments on digital tools for initial literacy),
  • the improvement of basic digital skills for social inclusion, which addresses the importance of the digital component in functional literacy and poses the challenge of digital divide.

By addressing the former approach (i.e. digital tools to develop basic skills) one finds a number of useful input in a previous online discussion on the use of digital tools in the provision of initial literacy and numeracy training and of language provision for immigrants. The latter approach brings up the issue of citizens with less developed digital skills becoming more and more marginalised in societies. David Mallows mentions in his blog post on the Digital Inclusion Pathway that

„As the online world encroaches ever further on the physical world we should pay great attention to digital inclusion – ensuring that each member of society is able to engage effectively with the riches of the digital world.”

In many countries the growing extent to which public services e.g. banking, public administration, taxation, etc. are becoming digitalised creates a challenge to citizens who are less digitally competent to fall behind and become more isolated and vulnerable.


Participants are encouraged to share their experiences and thoughts on the following questions:

  1. Who in your experience are the most vulnerable when it comes to ’e-services’ in societies and what are the major challenges?
  2. What programs do you know that specifically aim at including citizens with less sufficient digital skills (e.g. the elderly) into digitalised public services (e.g. e-governance systems)?
  3. What are the success criteria of any national program aiming at fighting the digital divide?

The discussion will open 9:00-17:00 CET, from 6 to 7 March.


The Capacity Building Series of EBSN provides free open educational resources (OERs) and massive online courses (MOOCs) through EPALE, to help the implementation of the European Commission recommendations on Upskilling pathways in EU Member States. EPALE is funded by the Erasmus+ programme, as part the European Commission’s ongoing commitment to improving the quality of adult learning provision in Europe. The project is implemented with the support of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).
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Bild för Tamás Harangozó
Thank you all for your reflections on the relevant target group! I would like to encourage the discussion to move on to potential programmes and initiatives aiming specifically at inclusion.

For a start, it might be worth looking at how the EU works along the field of eGovernance and the digitalisation of public services. 

In general,

As for eGovernance and digital public services,

  • A broad overview of the interlinked initiatives are presented on the e-government policy site of the Digital Single Market strategy, where one of the key document is also accessible: the eGovernment Action Plan of 2011-2015.

Do you know of any programmes/initiatives in your country (or professional context) aiming at digital inclusion of adults with less developed digital skills?

Are these programmes connected to the EU's eGovernment initiatives?
Bild för David Mallows
I think that, as with all adult learning, the context of use is key. However, often people who do not use digital tools, do not know what they could use them for. In a blog last year I introduced the term Digital Taste from the Digital Inclusion Pathway developed by Steve Reder. He defined the Digital Taste stage of the pathway as being about helping people to see the benefits that engagement with digital tools could bring them:
Here they must decide whether they actually want to use a computer and for what purpose. And it is here that many initiatives fall down – there’s no point in providing an adult with access to a machine if they have no desire to use it. We probably all know an elderly relative who has been given a laptop or an iPad in the expectation that they will start to send email rather than letters or keep in touch via Skype rather than a landline. Instead, the expensive gadget gathers dust in the corner despite much patient coaching by the younger generation. Others, of course, soon see the benefits and once they have got this ‘taste’ for digital, the next step, learning how to use it, becomes more meaningful.
Once people have a 'taste' for digital, their motivation to learn how to use digital tools increases and sustainable success is more likely.

Bild för Cäcilia Märki
Hello to all of you

I agree, those with low levels of literacy are the most vulnerable target groups. The use of ICT should, if appropriate, be an integral part of every learning offer, driven by the context of use. What do people want and need to do every day? Situated learning is key to a useful learning experience for the target group, aiming at influencing daily practice and capability to act.

The competencies of the trainers is the most relevant ingredient to the successful implementation of this concepts of learning. There is less to be planned, more flexibility and participation. This is new to the target group in the beginning, but autonomy grows with the opportunity and a good leadership providing space for action.

 Best regards

Bild för Etelberto Costa
Good morning and happy to participate from Portugal.
I agree in general with Graciela and feeling the same with ageing...would i be able to deal with robots in my daily life in the next (short) years?
Digitalising e-governance services is being fast as we demand but not aware of the consequences of lefting behind people. We mustn´t be happy with alternatives of having someone from our local authorities doing the forms or whatever? This brings other forms of problems.
In Learning i'm specially concerned about schools in earlier years. Teachers are not skiiled about cibersecurity and usage of internet devices. Digital skills must start the earliest possible (children are born with digital devices nearby...) in a Lifelong Learning perspetive and terminate with life ending.
Another issue concerning all this new world of things is that there is not enough money (budget), at least for the poorest countries,  for doing what must be what must be done as first...and the next?! without a vision, difficulties increase.

In my country call your attention for this national programme: 

Bild för Tamás Harangozó
Good morning Etelberto and welcome to the discussion!

Thank you for your comment. I agree that the fast-paced IT innovations in the public services pose a challenge to people who should not be left with the option that others in local authorities will take care of things for them. This is a pressing issue from an agency point of view too. The European Commission refers to digital exclusion as a cause for "a series of deteriorations in life paths like poor health, poor lifelong earnings and an increased risk of marginalisation". 
Bild för Graciela Sbertoli
Etelberto, I just tried to access the link you gave us and it doesn't seem to work. Can you check it up, please?
Bild för Etelberto Costa
5 ACTION LINES INCoDe.2030- the first one is on INCLUSION.

Another initiative taking place on MOOCs is: Project “NAU – Ensino e Formação a Distância para Grandes Audiências” aims to develop skills on public sector trough distance learning. - To learn and to write code. Private sector.

Next week we will promote two initiatives (By (civil society platform-Casa da Cidadania) and (association for informtaion society development)
1. Workshop PASC “Administração Aberta: Um desafio para o Estado e para a Sociedade” 13 Março | 09:00 - 13:00
2. Tertúlia-Debate “Administração Aberta: Um desafio para o Estado e para a Sociedade” – 15 de março

Bild för Graciela Sbertoli
Good morning, Tamás, and thank you for this opportunity to discuss a very important issue.

I think digital inclusion is a challenge involving many different types of adults. The digital development is progressing so quickly that few of us will be exempt from feeling that "it's all getting a bit much". Especially as we grow older!

Obviously the most vulnerable target group for digital inclusion are adults who lack a basic level of literacy - and Europe does still have a considerable amount of adults in that category. 

The elderly are also very much at risk of not being able to adjust to speedy digital development in our societies. Among them there will be different groups - persons who never have used ICT before, those  who have a very low level of digital competence, etc.

I used to think that we who became knowledgeable users of ICT in the 80s and 90s would by now feel we did not have any problem, but I am beginning to doubt that! 

The challenge is to develop ICT training that prepares people for further digital development. Too many ICT courses stop at the level of what I call "user instructions" - first you do this, then this and then this. The objective of the courses needs to be giving the target group a real understanding of how ICT tools and devices worrk. And to do that we need to train the trainers. Which is another issue! :-)

Bild för Tamás Harangozó
Good morning, Graciela!

Thank you for your comment. I also agree that one of the vulnerable groups in society is the elderly. There is an initiative directly addressing this target group to improve social participation, mobility and generally keeping people active. The programme is called "Ageing Well in the digital world".

It would be interesting to see more of these initiatives.
Bild för Cäcilia Märki
Good morning Graciela

isn't the context in which we use and need ICT the most important driver for learning? 
The most relevant question then might be: "What do I want to do?" or "What do I have to do?" and which technologies do I need for that purpose.

Areas of application would then be mobility and traveling, banking, paying, shopping, communicating with friends and family, working, organising and praticipating in social life, paying taxes, changing address online, searching for information, taking care of my data, privacy and security while online etc.

So I am reflecting, what kind of learning opportunities (courses) do we need to provide for individual learning interests and needs. Would I go to a course with an open format where I bring my own device and work on tasks that are challenging me personally? In that course I would get support of a tutor and/or other participants? This could be interesting but challenging for providers to provide.

We do not all face the same challenges. If literacy is at a low level, the courses need to be diffferent, yes, but for the general public with sufficient levels of literacy, such a course as described above could be useful.

What do you think?

Best regards